Cardinals 6, Cubs 3

By Chris Rewers on Saturday, August 14, 2010

Hero: Derrek Lee, who returned to the lineup and raised his average to .248, went 2-for-4 with a double and his 13th home run of the season.

Goat: Thomas Diamond (0-3) may have pitched his way out of the starting rotation after a brutal four-inning, 86-pitch outing in which he allowed four runs - all earned - on six hits with two strikeouts and four walks. Diamond may someday tell his grandchildren that he gave up a home run to the great Albert Pujols.

Key Play: The Cubs already had scored twice and had St. Louis starter Jake Westbrook (1-0) on the ropes in the first inning, but squandered the opportunity for a big inning. With runners at second and third and one out, Alfonso Soriano grounded out weakly to third with the runners holding (Nice at-bat, Sori. Way to move up the runners.). Darwin Barney ended the inning by flying out to left in his first major league at-bat.

Comments: Why are the first-place Cardinals (65-49) 18 games in front of the Cubs (48-68)? The reasons, as Lee Elia would say, are multifold. But among them are the Cards' ability to do the little things that win games and the Cubs inability to do likewise.

Yadier Molina twice batted with a runner on third and one out. On both occasions, he drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.

Pujols and Matt Holliday scored four of the Cardinals' runs and produced five of their eight hits. Pujols, who has 395 career homers, has hit more home runs against the Cubs (45) than against any other major league team. He is hitting .291 in 152 career games against the North Siders.

Casey Coleman, who did not allow a hit in two scoreless inning of relief, may replace Diamond in the rotation.

Friday's game was the start of a 10-game stretch in which the Cubs face the National League's current division leaders - St. Louis, San Diego, and Atlanta.

Next: Will Carlos Zambrano (3-6, 5.46 ERA) be able to keep his cool in the intense St. Louis heat Saturday (Fox, 3:10 p.m.)? Zambrano, who will oppose Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter (13-3, 2.89), walked seven in five innings his last time out, against San Francisco.

Carpenter has a 1.79 ERA in six starts since the All-Star break. The Cardinals are 19-6 in games started by the veteran right-hander and have won both games that he has started against the Cubs in 2010. Carpenter is 10-3 with a 2.79 ERA in 19 career starts against the Cubs.

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